What a strange thing it is to wake up to an overcast September morning! The sun trying to peep through the thick cotton blanket of clouds, and the air vapour-filled with the scent from the handful of flowers in my balcony. For a while, it is somnolent and cool…a temporary reprieve. My imagination floats… Voila! A new bloom colours my horizon. During these pandemic times of being homebound and somewhat ‘isolated’, I have turned into a plant stalker!

As I sip my early morning tea and stare into space… Yes, that is a lovely place to be in at times, my thoughts are disturbed by a pair of doves – unmindful of all else other than their nesting act in the evergreen leaves of the palm tree whose branches are at eye level in the corner of my first floor balcony. I ignore the cacophonous cawing of the crows and the chirping of the sparrows that are back in huge numbers in Gurgaon. The nest is visible to me, neatly placed in the fronds. Soon we become friends as the dove knows I am constantly keeping a watchful eye and every now and then clicking pictures of her.

The rains come in unannounced…invoking in us the feeling of rebirth, renewal and awakening. Petrichor is always intoxicating…and the otherwise dust ridden leaves and flowers, bearing the brunt of the heat of the scorching summers, are a sight of absolute bliss when they have been through a night of monsoon showers. Things are coming to life – the trees are finally blossoming and the early flowers are pushing through the earth.

But in all this sultry and extreme weather where the barometer stands high and there is little or no breeze, the rainy season slowly but deftly exposes the beauty of nature with the grass turning visibly green, the summer flowers in bloom while the brightly coloured butterflies dance gaily around them with the bees humming their own tunes.

My favourite time is early morning...as the dawn breaks and the skies clear and open up...a new day...a new beginning beckons. There is a slight nip in the air which doesn’t last long but it does tend to make you forget about what is in store and the heat that will follow in just a few hours into the day. While I sip my tea, and breathe in the fresh morning air, it is natural to give thanks for the simple pleasures of life. The huge neem tree with its branches hanging across my car park resembles an aviary. The raucous sounds of babblers...the chirping of barbets and the chattering of squirrels are but a welcome sight.

It makes me wonder why the doves chose this particular palm tree for their nest. It has been fascinating watching them make numerous trips carrying twigs, twine and blades of grass with their tiny little beaks. A perfectly made nest ready within a week, privacy intact and well-guarded from intruding eyes yet the silent trust they built with me, an inquisitive observer, left me awe struck. The mother dove soon settled inside to welcome their squab. I couldn’t help but draw the comparison between the complicated lives of humans and these little birds. Right from choosing a mate to constructing a house and making it a home, it’s a battle of wits, words and never ending woes.

The vigil outside the nest by the elusive male indicated his possessiveness of what lay inside the cosy nest. One fine morning I heard a faint chirping. I silently welcomed the addition to the family. In the days to come, the nest reverberated with energetic movements while all along the parents nurtured the perfectly groomed squab epitomizing patience, endurance, love and tender care. The feeding task over, and having lulled the nest into silence, the parents would once again fly in pursuit of the next meal. I couldn’t but help admire their lessons in discipline and left me wondering about the tactics we humans often devise in dealing with everyday life.

And then without warning: The fledgling flew the coop… The rest they say is history! No tearful adieus, no emotional hang ups and no ostentatious display for their flight into new and dangerous terrain. How easy life would be for us too if we were attached yet as detached as they; if we like them laid our trust and faith in the invisible indomitable spirit that exists within us all!

A new nest sprang up last week and my friend was back to roost. Unfortunately, the society’s ever-enthusiastic gardener decided to trim the trees and before I knew what was happening, the nest came crashing down. Heart-broken and equally annoyed, I lashed out at the man but he really couldn’t care a fig. The frantic Mother flew around agitatedly, twittering expletives I am certain. We locked eyes several times and her questioning look left me helpless.

This morning, she was on my balcony ledge…looking forlorn but there to complain to me about yesterday’s shenanigans…we were just a few inches apart…with no fear…giving me the ‘look’ and in return I could only make soothing sounds and exchange calming words – pointing her towards the next, best looking branch in my opinion.

A flying leap forward… Move on my beauty!